When Stanley Cup Champion Darryl Sutter “resigned” from his outpost as the General Manager for your Calgary Flames, Jay Feaster, a street kid out of nowhere (or whatever) somehow defied all the odds and was awarded the role of successor. At the time it was met with the kind of malaise generally reserved for the movie Drive or that one time you let Bernie Madoff help you with your tax returns. On the one hand, it was essential to have anyone that wasn’t Darryl “What the fuck are you on?” Sutter holding the fate of the team in his ranch chapped hands, the perceived friction between him and brother-coach Brent no longer a distraction, Matt Stajans no longer given 4 year contract extensions. But it was just so uneasy when Feaster took over. Sure, he had won a Cup in Tampa (IT WAS IN!), but that team inherited was largely built off the back of Rick Dudley, and Feaster’s own methodology during his employ in Tampa was…less than auspicious. Coupling that with the notion that Calgary never really took the time to go out and find Mr. Right when Feaster was Mr. Right Now, the hiring was met with maybe some optimism, however lingering.
And golly, how it was fleeting.
Early on in his tenure, Feaster bestowed upon the Flames a baffling philosophy of a kind of team building equilibrium. Moves were made that were indeed helpful, but were offset by some puzzling actions that have gone to serve as an apt illustration of how Jay Feaster seems to work. The trade of Robyn Regehr last season, for the most part, made sense. A still marketable yet declining player who made around $4 million per season, Robyn Regehr was exactly the kind of guy that gets ushered out of town in this cap conscious NHL. When you trade a player like that, the perception is that you’re replacing him with someone younger, cheaper, with a decent chance of becoming, at the very least, Robyn Regehr once was. Throw in the fact that he managed to convince CrAzZzZzyYyY Darcy Regier to take on Ales Kotalik, an anchor I thought was going to be weighing down this franchise and it’s hopes and dreams for an eternity, and for but a brief glimmer of time, Feastmode looked like a genius.
But then we heard the other end of the deal. We’ve had a year to let it sink in, and although they’re not without their merits, I think it’s safe to say Chris Butler has too many limitations on his game to become a top flight defenseman in this league, and Paul Byron is not ample compensation for the second rounder it cost to get rid of Kotalik.
The Regehr debacle became a metaphor for Feaster and the Flames’ inability to decipher whether or not the team was in rebuild mode, or the now infamous “going for it” approach. It’s still an issue. This team is in limbo now as much as it’s ever been, based solely on management’s indecision on which way to steer the ship.
Which is frustrating, n’est pas?
AND WE’RE STILL DEALING WITH IT. My compadres over at Matchsticks and Gasoline wrote this wonderful piece about an interview Craig Conroy recently did with Sportsnet (or the Fan or whatever, I think Boomer interviewed him, like I give a fuck what Boomer has to say)
I’ll give you a synopsis: The belief is the Flames are trying to stockpile some draft picks, possibly for the first time in forfuckingever. Doing this may or may not entail trading down in this week’s draft and acquiring a second round pick the Flames currently do not have thanks to the Mike Cammalleri trade, and possibly, frighteningly enough, eating an expensive contract to land picks/prospects (Kotalik’d)
(As an aside, the remarks from Conroy, to me, stress that this whole self imposed cap we kept hearing about might have been some kind of bunk, as eating salaries is not exactly indicative of being cost effective, but seeing as that rumour was never confirmed in the first place, let’s pass it off as idle speculation for the rest of this article)
The crux of the piece is that the Flames want to acquire draft picks. As volatile as that can be, it makes good sense, and it demonstrates that the Flames are looking to address a need. It’s no secret the team is prospect thin, and employing the quantity over quality method has it’s charms. The idea being that stockpiling more picks gives you a better chance of a few of those picks panning out to be something worthwhile. No one draft pick not named Crosby is ever a sure bet, so double down and increase your odds. In a draft year where, outside of the number one ranked guy, no player looks like a surefire franchise maker, trading down to get more picks is a responsible and safe play. As much as I’ve been pushing you guys on Radek Faksa and how good it would be for the Flames to land him at number 14, the truth is if he’s available at 14, he’s available for a reason. Whatever you can land at 22 or 23 can theoretically be just as valuable to a team, if not more, especially if it lands you a bonus choice ( AND there’s still a possibility that Zemgus Girgensons could be had that late, which is just dandy).
Again, you have to assess what is still available in that 14th spot, and if there isn’t a REAL steal slotting in there (Grigorenko, if Bob McKenzie’s Top 30 list is something you believe in), the trade route could be a real opportunity. And that’s the indication Conroy admits to pursuing come Draft Day, which suggests some level of forward thinking on the part of management.
Which of course broaches at a bit of a rebuild in motion in Calgary should this be the path the Flames beat (it should be noted that Jay Feaster threatens to do a lot of things, only to later have to try to explain himself to whoever it is on TSN that is interviewing him at the time. So take these “These are the things we want to do” claims with a grain of salt) The acquisition of a bloated contract is something that genuinely worries me, but it seems like the discussion is about filling the cupboards, so it IS something you have to consider. I hope it’s a Plan B option at best, and if it’s something they do, they rethink their “not taking advantage of the buyout window”, which is already a ridiculous thing to be ignoring when you consider Matt Stajan.
It was taking some time, but given what I had heard, I was starting to soften my stance on Jay Feaster. I liked what I was hearing. Again, I’m not totally sold on the idea of a full out rebuild, but I prefer it to the purgatory we’ve lived through for a season and a half, so any sense of direction at this time to me is commendable. It’s a clear signal that Feaster was trying to build HIS team, and maybe Ken King doesn’t fully have his hand in the cookie jar over here, and maybe this is all the sign of good things coming in small doses.
Because apparently I’m easily swayed. In any case, there was some light. Jay Feaster was yingin’.
But then I was watching That’s Hockey this afternoon, and Darren Dreger pushed in the darkness. The Flames have Yanged the fuck out, if anything Dreger said had any bearings in reality. (Which, by the way, I don’t think they do, I do believe it’s speculation, but the kind of shit we’ve seen around here the past few years, I tell ya, it makes you think)
Dreger was, in an albeit very short segment, I assume speculating on the route of the Flames, and suggests that the idea of Iginla and Kiprusoff being traded anytime soon was a fool’s game. Granted, I’m too much of a fan of what Kip and Iggy have done for this franchise to not have some part of me want those two beautiful men to play out their careers here in the New West, but it DOES fly in the face of what Conroy was talking about. (I’ve always been a subscriber to the theory that you can retool your team without a full blow it up Edmonton rebuild and retain Iginla and Kiprusoff, but I’ve gone over that SO many times, I’m just not going to do it now) So that was a thing. Nothing really surprising. I don’t think anyone really expects Iginla to be wearing a jersey that doesn’t have a Flaming C on the chest unless the team revives what Mr. James Newsboy Callsen so phenomenally refers to as the “Ol’ Blasty” jersey.
But then: BOMBSHELL:
“The Calgary Flames have a new coaching staff and a willingness to consider all trade scenarios not including Jarome Iginla or Miikka Kiprusoff.
Like most teams, the Flames are looking for a Top 6 forward – ideally, a centre. Mikael Backlund and Jay Bouwmeester are among those the Flames would trade. But with two years remaining at a whopping $6.7 million per season, Bouwmeester is going to be a tough sell.
If the Flames intend to go the distance with experience, perhaps Jaromir Jagr will be of interest to play alongside fellow countryman Roman Cervenka.”
Okay, so maybe some intrepid blogger out there intimated that Jay Bouwmeester could be dealworthy, though he made it quite clear he was not a proponent of such an action, as losing J-Bo requires that the Flames and their already depleted D core would need to go out and acquire TWO Top tier defenseman. And we’ve heard all year from pundits that Mikael Backlund is a bust and should be traded, but to be fair, the people saying that are idiots. Moving Backlund seems to contradict the idea of the Flames building a younger affordable team, as at 22 Backlund still has a lot of untapped potential while simultaneously flying under the radar just enough to make him still very affordable to re-sign right now. Trading him has Joni Mitchell Moment written all over it.
The major shock from Dreger, as I’m sure you’ve figured out right now given that you are probably not Jacques Demers and therefore are likely capable of reading, is that the Flames could have some interest in signing Jaromir Fucking Jagr, who is reported to be hitting Free Agency come Canada Day.
Which is batfuck insane. For one, I’m going to go ahead and call this rumour bullshit, even though I do respect Dreger when it comes to these kinds of matters. But this one is too loco to have any legitimacy.
I doubt, for starters, that Jagr has any pressing desire to come play on a team that’s so lost and nowhere close to contending for a championship. I think we’re really overvaluing whatever kind of relationship he might have had as a mentor to Roman Cervanka over in Europe, and considering Roman has yet to lace up his skates even once in North America, that we might be reading just a touch too much into this. Roman Cervanka is not Mario Lemieux. Players don’t come sign to a team for the chance to play with him.
But let’s assume, for a second, and only a second, because after that things start getting dizzy, that this is a thing. Jaromir Jagr pulls an Ol’ Blasty jersey over his Jofas next season. THAT IS FUCKING ASININE. The guy is 41 years old, and, let’s be fair, a bit of a sideshow. He did prove that he can still be a very capable player when playing alongside Claude Giroux, but I’ll tell you what: Claude Giroux does not play for the Calgary Flames. Considering that we’re all ready to dump Olli Jokinen unless he re-signs with the team for peanuts compared to what he made last year, it’s hard to believe that Jagr will come in with reasonable salary demands and that it would make sense for the Flames to meet the demands of this 41 year old enigma.
If it happens, it continues to be another frustrating display of Feaster and friends just NOT knowing what the fuck they’re doing, and we as fans have sat through that movie for long enough. The General Manager is doing everything in his power to not tip the scales and keep the fans who want a change happy, while simultaneously kowtowing to an ownership group that wants marketable names and financial results, and we all know what that balance looks like. And we hate it. So it’s up to Feaster (Or Ken King, if the words of Dome Beers is anything to believe. And it is). The power is his. Darkness or Light. The fate of this franchise, for better or worse, is in his hands, and this is THE time that is going to define his legacy with the Calgary Flames. He just needs to pick a side.
Tags: Backlund, Bouwmeester, Butler, Byron, Cervanka, Conroy, Darryl, Dreger, Faksa, Feastmode, going for it, Iginla, Jagr, Kiprusoff, Kotalik is a swear word, Mr. Right Now, Ol' Blasty, Regehr, Yanged the fuck out, yingin', ZEMGUS
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